pen-y-bont_mike's picture

Unknown bird

Observed: 17th September 2009 By: pen-y-bont_mikepen-y-bont_mike’s reputation in Birdspen-y-bont_mike’s reputation in Birdspen-y-bont_mike’s reputation in Birds

This was seen in Sept 2009. The woodland surrounds a freshwater pond. Sorry about the quality of the photos but this bird was quite a long way away. Three of the photos have been tightly cropped. The 2nd photo is the uncropped version of the 1st and gives a better idea of the distance. If it helps these were taken at 300mm on a 1.6 crop sensor (35mm equivalent = 480mm). My memory is a bit vague but I seem to recall it was about warbler size. If I only had the last 2 photos I might guess at immature Goldfinch but I'm not confident enough to venture an id because the other photos look completely wrong. I can't be 100% certain they are the same bird but I don't recall there being another bird and there is only three seconds between the first two and third shots.
See notes on Goldfinch observation and my comment.

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) interacts


pen-y-bont_mike's picture

1st bird

Thanks for Goldfinch id but more importantly that there are two seperate birds. I thought I was going mad!

The only very tentative suggestion I can give for the 1st bird is Spotted flycatcher. One was sighted at this location a day or two before but I have never seen one and it doesn't look much like the one in my book or any photos I've looked at.

DavidHowdon's picture


I suggest you split this into two entries, one for each bird.

Was the bright white tail on the first bird a feature observed or just a photographic artefact?

pen-y-bont_mike's picture


Thanks for suggesting a split. I can't see a way easily to untangle them without making the Goldfinch id confusing or losing info on the 1st bird. I'll have a think about it.

I don't remember observing the tail specifically. I didn't really get a clear view and I'm not very experienced in observing detailed features, particularly in flight. I first saw it flying into a thick bush/tree on the other side of the pond. I have some photos of it skulking in there but these only show a pale apparently unmarked breast. They appear to be a touch over exposed so there may well be some light marking. I also think I remember it flying out and back in briefly which is what put the Flycatcher thought into my head but I have seen Chiffchaff feeding like that too.

It then flew accross the front of the hide to the opposite side, which is where I got the photos posted above. It was only there for a few seconds before flying off into the wood behind. Unfortunately the only view I got of it perched was through the viewfinder of the camera.

I do, however, have a clear memory of thinking instantaneously that it was a bird that I hadn't seen before, either at that location or elsewhere, and I see a fair number of the three mentioned by ophrys. It may well have been something about the tail that gave me that impression.

I did think the bright tail might have been a trick of the camera. The histograms of the photos don't have the smoothest arc but there is nothing to suggest any significant artefact. They may also be a little over exposed and the tail may therefore have some detail blown. How much is difficult to say. Even if it is significantly blown the fact that it is only the tail suggests that a large proportion of it must have been lighter than the wing feathers. Looking at the 2nd (uncropped) photo there is also a blown area on the tree (to the right and above the bird). This tree is dead and from a distance looks white/very pale. The over exposed bit is where a branch has snapped stripping the bark and lichen (and a small patch of lichen below) and the effect is very similar.